Monday, May 11, 2009
Inspiration or Interpretation: Why I Doodle All the Day
If there’s an open space within a letter I fill it in. I underline words, then underline again, and then make a squiggle. A radiating pattern emerges with undulating lines and then forms emerge, doorways and paths, clouds and trees appear. In a lecture or classroom, or while on the phone, if I find myself with paper and pencil or pen I start to doodle. Actually paper and pen aren’t even needed. A foggy window, a sandy beach, a pile of twigs on the ground - all are fair game. It’s automatic and that makes sense, for doodling is often thought of as a type of automatism.
Doodling is a bridge to the subconscious, laid out through symbols and patterns, or even through the quality or emphasis of the line. There is a relationship between doodling and dreaming. Both use images as a language to send messages from the subconscious to the conscious mind. The ability to listen to and understand these messages can be very helpful. Some say that like handwriting, doodles can be used for interpretation. Or, as in this process, that doodles can help resolve a problem.
A study by psychologist Jackie Andrade has found that doodling can help a person to concentrate and that it may help with memory. Time explains her findings and the mechanics of how doodling helps people pay attention in situations where they might otherwise tune out.
Automatic drawings, as well as several other techniques used by the Surrealists, were employed as a way to either inspire their work or as the making of a finished piece. The unconscious as a source of inspiration is a key element in the Surrealistic movement. These techniques continue to be explored by artists today. Aaron Landman has recently posted about his doodling exercises and their effectiveness in quieting the critical mind. Dora Ficher, writes about how doodling helps keep her focused.
I use doodles to find a feeling tone for the work I want to do. They’ll tell me if it’s going to be calm or turbulent and if needed, what direction I might look to in the landscape for reference.
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